Culture

Is 'Beyond a Reasonable Doubt' a Standard for Belief in God?

Famed Prosecutor and author Vincent Bugliosi just published his newest book, a polemic in defense of agnosticism titled Divinity of Doubt: The God Question

Eric Reitan reviews the book for Religious Dispatches and provides his own skepticism of Bugliosi, finding the case wanting. Should the level of certainty needed to execute a murderer apply to the decision of what kind of life we are to live?

A rigorous defense of agnosticism should also take on those who, like philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, argue that the stance of skeptical inquiry into God’s existence favored by Flew is inadequate when it comes to a questions of such staggering significance as whether or not there is a God.

Kierkegaard takes as his starting point the fact that we will never have certainty when it comes to the question of God, and that approaching this question as one in which we should gather and evaluate the evidence would mean putting off for our whole lives the fundamental existential choice about what kind of life we are going to live.

For Kierkegaard, the most important fact about us is that we are subjects who are related to the universe in one way or another. The choice between theism and atheism is a choice about the orientation and character of that subjective relationship. If we put off a decision until the evidence comes in—given that it never will—what we are doing is forever refusing to be what we essentially are: a subject who stands in a passional relationship with the universe.

In February I wrote about the 6 varieties of the agnostic experience.

When finished with the question of “Does God exist?” one can move on to “If I live as though God exists how will that belief gradually transform me into a better person so I can live a happier, more productive, more meaningful life?”

Related: This August Howard Bloom’s new book The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates arrives.